Tag Archives: Cultures

US ‘honor roll’ of historic places often ignores slavery

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —
Antebellum Southern plantations were built on the backs of enslaved people, and many of those plantations hold places of honor on the National Register of Historic Places – but don’t look for many mentions of slavery in the government’s official record of places with historic significance.

The register’s written entries on the plantations tend to say almost nothing about the enslaved people who picked the cotton and tobacco or cut the sugar cane that paid for ornate homes that today serve as wedding venues, bed-and-breakfast inns, tourist attractions and private homes — some of which tout their inclusion on the National Register like a gold star.

The National Register of Historic Places lists more than 95,000 sites that are important to the story of the United States. From some of the most famous places — such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate — to scores of lesser-known plantation homes in the rural South, register entries often ignore the topic of slavery or mention it only in passing, an Associated Press review found.

Experts blame a generational lack of concern for the stories of black people and, in many cases, a shortage of records. While some narratives have been updated to include information about enslavement, such changes aren’t mandatory and many have not.

The National Register’s entry for Mount Vernon, approved in 1977, doesn’t use the word “slave,” although more than 300 enslaved black people worked the first president’s fields, cooked his food and cleaned the house where tourists now roam.

The entry for Thomas Jefferson’s mountaintop home, Monticello, notes that the third president owned as many as 200 slaves. Yet it generally avoids discussing them or the details of their ownership by the author of the Declaration of Independence.

The same is true for plantation after plantation across the former Confederate states.

Those omissions likely contributed to the loss of slave housing and other structures linked to the economy of enslavement because no one deemed them important, preservationist Ashley Rogers said.

“The problem is, the damage has been done,” said Rogers, executive director of the Whitney Plantation Museum near New Orleans.

The Whitney, which documents slavery at a pre-Civil War plantation near New Orleans, draws tens of thousands of visitors annually and is known for discussing topics that other tourist plantations ignore. Yet even its entry in the National Register, completed in 1992 before the current owner purchased it, doesn’t mention the slaves who toiled there.

Similarly, visitors to Mount Vernon or Monticello in Virginia can now hear stories and see exhibits about slave life — but those features were added long after the landmarks became some of the first sites listed in the National Register.

The National Register’s incomplete stories reflect the way the public ignores the topic of enslaved people, said Hasan Kwame Jeffries, an associate professor at Ohio State University who specializes in areas including African American history.

“It’s telling us what we have been valuing as a society and how we understand slavery,” Jeffries said.

Congress established the National Register of Historic Places under a 1966 historic preservation act aimed at coordinating preservation work and highlighting the nation’s most historic sites.

Along with bragging rights, a listing on the National Register can help property owners financially. More than $160 billion has been invested in preserving 44,000 historic places nationwide under a tax credit program approved in 1976, according to the National Park Service, which oversees the program.

Property owners, local groups and government agencies nominate sites for inclusion on the National Register, noting architectural features, historic significance and other information. State preservation offices review the nominations and submit them to the Park Service for a final decision.

Those nomination forms, available on government websites, make up the bulk of information that’s publicly available about places listed on the register, the Park Service said. And they often ignore the enslaved people who provided the labor on antebellum plantations.

Magnolia Grove, a state-owned antebellum plantation home dating to 1835 in Greensboro, Alabama, has a slave cabin that tourists can visit, plus displays about enslaved people, yet its 1972 entry on the National Register doesn’t mention slaves.

The state-operated Kingsley Plantation near Jacksonville, Florida, was home to slaves, yet its National Register entry doesn’t say who they were or how they were forced to work in the Southern heat. Instead, it describes tabby — a kind of concrete made of oyster shells — and the “colorful” slave trader Zephaniah Kingsley, who gets credit for having “carefully trained” enslaved people to farm his cotton.

A historian who has researched the antebellum South, Clifton Ellis, said many National Register entries reflect a time when neither African American history nor the cultural importance of buildings were emphasized.

“You might see that there’s a relation between lack of information and when they were written,” said Ellis, of Texas Tech University. “It was only during the ‘70s that historians were beginning to look at slavery more closely. That took time to work its way through the academy.”

Many plantation owners also kept poor records of slave life and did little to preserve reminders of it — another reason for the information void.

The civil rights movement drew attention to the need for inclusive history, Ellis said, and nominations have improved with time. Property owners and historical groups are allowed to update National Register entries with new information. Some have done so with information about slaves.

Today, any new nomination of an antebellum site that doesn’t discuss its ties to slavery would be rejected for more work, said Sarah David, who oversees the National Register program for North Carolina.

“You can’t talk about something that was built before the Civil War without talking about enslaved people,” she said. “They were just in it. They may have built it.”

The historical blindness about slavery and enslaved people isn’t limited to plantations in the National Register.

The entry for Alabama’s white-domed Capitol details its role as the place where delegates established the Confederate States of America in 1861, but doesn’t cite slavery’s role in the rebellion or Horace King, a onetime slave credited with building the elegant, curved stairways in the building’s main entrance.

Joe McGill routinely sleeps in old slave homes as part of The Slave Dwelling Project, which seeks to tell the forgotten stories of enslaved people. Sketchy accounts of slavery are a product of a decades-long period when white male historians primarily told the stories of white males, he said.

“It needs to be corrected because it coincides with an incomplete narrative,” said McGill, who has slept in about 150 slave dwellings in 25 states in the South and the North.

But updating all that outdated history would be daunting, historians said.

With hundreds of old plantations listed on the National Register and many preservationists focused on saving endangered sites rather than updating information about existing ones, rounding out the history of antebellum farms could take years.

“It would take a massive effort,” said Ellis.

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UN: Reconstruction of landmark Mosul mosque to start in 2020

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The United Nations’ cultural company UNESCO introduced Wednesday {that a} landmark reconstruction of Iraq’s al-Nouri mosque in Mosul, which was blown up by the Islamic State group in 2017, will begin in the beginning of subsequent 12 months.

The timeline of the restoration plan of the 12th-century monument, famed for its leaning minaret, was hammered out throughout a gathering in Paris between UNESCO Director Common Audrey Azoulay and several other Iraqi officers, together with Iraqi Tradition Minister Abdulamir al-Dafar Hamdani, and Mosul’s regional governor, Mansour al-Mareed.

First launched in 2018, the mosque restoration plan would be the most eye-catching a part of a $100 million UNESCO-led heritage reconstruction of Mosul.

“Revive the Spirit of Mosul” is the biggest restoration plan in Iraqi historical past, and comes two years after the outdated metropolis’s destruction by the hands of extremists.

“As we speak we agreed on a calendar, a exact calendar and plan of motion to be mobilized on the bottom in Iraq. … The continuing section of structural consolidation and the essential section of site-clearing and mine-clearing (has) to be achieved from now to the top of the 12 months,” Azoulay instructed reporters.

“We have additionally agreed on a timetable that may see the reconstruction begin within the first semester of 2020 for the mosque,” she added.

IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from the al-Nouri mosque in the summertime of 2014, just for IS extremists to blow it up in June 2017 as Iraqi forces closed in.

Two years after IS was evicted, Mosul is a metropolis nonetheless very a lot in ruins with no significant worldwide effort to rebuild — one that’s nonetheless fighting primary companies like electrical energy, water and well being care. The U.N.’s improvement program is working to revive non-public homes within the historic Outdated Metropolis. Most of its residents nonetheless reside in camps.

The UNESCO initiative goes far past the mere restoration of the mosque, and can see the money be used to rebuild church buildings, faculties and a road in Mosul’s Outdated Metropolis, which was well-known for its bookshops.

The United Arab Emirates is offering $50.four million to finance the venture, specializing in the restoration of the mosque, with the European Union offering $24 million.

The choice to pick Mosul, versus different Iraqi cities, for a revamp owes to its specific historical past as a melting pot metropolis.

“We have chosen Mosul as an emblem as a result of Mosul was earlier than the battle a metropolis of variety, a metropolis of tolerance – greater than tolerance – a metropolis the place folks lived collectively and knew one another past communities, past non secular belongings,” Azoulay mentioned.

She pressured that she’s requested that among the $100 million go towards the rebuilding of a synagogue and Christian non secular websites.

———

Related Press author Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.

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Swiss celebrate once-in-a-generation winegrowers’ festival

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Swiss residents and tourists alike are partying like they haven’t since 1999.

The town of Vevey has kicked off the 12th “Fete des Vignerons,” or Winemakers Festival, the latest installment in a centuries-old tradition of celebrating vineyard workers — which nowadays takes place only once a generation.

Festival organizers have pulled out the stops for the celebration in Vevey, a lakeside town near Switzerland’s famous terraced vineyards that are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2016, the U.N. cultural agency classified the festival itself as part of the “intangible cultural heritage” of Switzerland.

Among the big-ticket items in the 100 million Swiss franc ($100 million) budget for the festival is a purpose-built arena — big enough to hold 20,000 people, or more than the entire town’s population. Towering over Lake Geneva, the venue is hosting an Olympics- or Super Bowl-style show with dancers, music and other festivities. As many as a million people are expected in Vevey while the festival runs through Aug. 11.

Above all, it’s a colorful, timeless celebration of Swiss-ness tied up in a festival for winegrowers. People dress in costumes to represent facets of life in the vineyards: insects like ants and grasshoppers; or pests like raisin-pecking starlings; young lovers frolicking among the vines; droughts and storms that confound winegrowers.

During the kickoff parade on Thursday, kids in butterfly or ladybug costumes marched through town, while marching band players took a break from the Swiss sunshine with glasses more often filled with cold beer than wine.

This year, organizers are going high-tech with what’s billed as the world’s largest outdoor LED-lit stage.

“It’s been 20 years that we’ve been waiting for this moment now, and it’s crazy!” said Vevey native Fanny Rupp, a 31-year-old physical therapist wearing a wide-brimmed and traditional dress.

With an arm draped over her father’s shoulder, they sang a few bars of the festival anthem “Ranz des Vaches” — a nostalgia-rich Alpine song popularized by 18th-century Geneva philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Some 5,500 dancers, actors and extras are working at the festival, which features parades, music and lots of alcohol consumption. But the centerpiece is the awards given to winegrowing standouts.

The festival has its roots in a competition that began in the 17th century to ensure quality wines from the region, with a grading system that often got censorious — with some winegrowers who didn’t pass muster all but shunned. The festival began a more upbeat approach by “crowning” standout winegrowers in the first formal festival in 1797.

A show playing nightly represents a “year in the life of the vineyard,” with 20 scenes culminating with the harvest.

While the winegrowers are the honorees, the festival is really a celebration of Switzerland and its amazing natural environment, featuring each of the country’s 26 cantons, or regions.

Frederic Hohl, the festival’s executive director, said many Swiss living abroad have booked tickets to attend the celebrations.

“Honestly, we can say that Vevey will be the capital of Switzerland for one month,” he said.

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Notre Dame fire was a warning bell. But will Europe listen?

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Its a thin line where the patina of age on Europes countless monuments gives way to the onset of neglect. Like with so many loved ones, all is assumed to be fine, until suddenly its not.

In the wake of the fire last week that gutted Notre Dame, questions are being raised about the state of thousands of other cathedrals, palaces and village spires that have turned France — as well as Italy, Britain and Spain — into open air museums of Western civilization.

If even an iconic building like Notre Dame could not be protected from devastation, if such a potent symbol of France had to scramble for maintenance funds, that lays bare a culture of apathy that can undermine a shared history as well as the multibillion-dollar tourism industry upon which much of Europe depends.

We are so used to our outstanding cultural heritage in Europe that we tend to forget that it needs constant care and attention, Tibor Navracsics, the European Unions top culture official, told The Associated Press.

Some say the wake-up call, not just for Europe but the whole world, rang in Paris.

Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovicis, head of the Europa Nostra heritage foundation, said it was as if Notre Dame decided to set itself on fire to ring the alarm bell. As if she wanted to sacrifice herself for the cause.

Devastating fires have robbed mankind of its knowledge, art and treasures since the famed library of Alexandria in northern Egypt burned down in ancient times. Prior to Notre Dame, the last global warning came when Brazils Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most important cultural institutions in South America, burned down in September.

Unfortunately, the fire in Notre Dame is just one of many examples, said Navracsics.

Experts look at the near-endless list of fires at historical sites in Europe and wonder why officials so often dont learn before its too late. Data on such fires is limited, because monuments are so varied. Some were accidents, others arson.

There are no exact statistics, said Didier Rykner of Frances La Tribune de lArt, but added that France sees several fires every year in historic buildings, which is already way too much.

A 2015 study by the German engineering giant Siemens showed that Scotland had about 10 damaging fires a year, while England lost at least a dozen listed buildings a year. Germany has seen 70 such buildings destroyed since 2000.

Every year, theres lightning or something else that destroys a tower or a roof, Juan Antonio Herráez, who is in charge of preventive conservation at Spains Cultural Heritage institute, told the AP.

In 1985, the tower of Luxembourgs main cathedral caught fire and burned down. In 2004, a fire in the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar, Germany, caused an estimated 80 million euros in damage. In Italy, the historic La Fenice opera house in Venice was destroyed by fire in 1996, and a year later, that happened at Turins Sindone Chapel of the Holy Shroud.

And all too often, fires happen during restoration work.

The Glasgow School of Arts Mackintosh Building was gutted by fire last year for the second time in four years as it neared the end of a multimillion-pound (dollar) restoration project.

In Spain, the Gran Teatre del Liceu — Barcelonas opera house — was destroyed almost entirely in 1994 by a fire caused by spark that fell on a curtain during routine repair work.

Experts say whats lacking is the constant attention and regular maintenance that could help avoid the need for major restoration work, but that costs money. The problem has been exacerbated by the austerity budgets many European nations adopted after the 2008 financial crisis and during Europes subsequent debt crisis.

After austerity cuts, Rykner said, you need some drastic restorations that either you dont do, or you do them badly or cheaply. And it can lead to fires.

Herráez wants officials to shift their focus to prevention instead of only reacting to building disasters.

Reparation or restoration should be seen as the failure in conservation, he said. We would be spending money in maintenance but we will be minimizing potential future damages.

Navracsics echoed that thought.

We should never forget that theres also a cost to non-action, a lack of maintenance or a lack of prevention, he said.

The problem is that prevention is practically invisible but grand restorations can be a boon for the politicians cutting the ribbons.

The fire at Notre Dame had barely been doused when two of Frances richest men, rival billionaires, stepped up with flashy, competing donations of hundreds of millions of euros to rebuild the Paris cathedral. Notre Dame donations now stand at over 1 billion euros (1.12 billion) — or about three years of Frances national restoration budget.

This massive outpouring of donations grates on those who have begged for years for a few thousand euros to restore a local but valuable monument.

You have seen that, now, the money is not the problem, said Quaedvlieg-Mihailovicis. There is a lesson. Could we not invest smaller amounts, and not just for the biggest and the most iconic monuments?

The EU itself has allotted 4.7 billion euros (5.28 billion) for restorations in the 2014-2020 financial budget on top of what individual nations do.

As state funding dries up, governments are increasingly looking for private donors to renovate major monuments. In Italy in recent years, Tods luxury shoes sponsored the Colosseum face-lift, while the Fendi fashion house helped the Trevi Fountain in Rome and Diesel backed improvements for the Rialto bridge in Venice.

We do need to invest more, but this is a shared responsibility for governments, businesses and citizens across Europe, said Navracsics.

Nations will reap the benefits of such spending for years to come. Tourism in Britain and France alone amounts to about 7 of their Gross Domestic Product, good for around 150 billion euros and 170 billion euros (around 170 billion and 190 billion) a year.

Some say world-renowned monuments like Notre Dame are the driving force behind such tourism and deserve more respect.

Cultural heritage is a gold mine. You cannot exploit it and then just leave the mine and go to another one. It is something you really have to cherish, said Quaedvlieg-Mihailovicis.

Aritz Parra in Madrid, Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless in London, Colleen Barry in Milan, Sylvie Corbet and Sam Petrequin in Paris all contributed

Read and watch all Associated Press coverage of the Notre Dame fire at

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Notre Dame fire was a warning bell. But will Europe listen?

[ad_1]

Its a thin line where the patina of age on Europes countless monuments gives way to the onset of neglect. Like with so many loved ones, all is assumed to be fine, until suddenly its not.

In the wake of the fire last week that gutted Notre Dame, questions are being raised about the state of thousands of other cathedrals, palaces and village spires that have turned France — as well as Italy, Britain and Spain — into open air museums of Western civilization.

If even an iconic building like Notre Dame could not be protected from devastation, if such a potent symbol of France had to scramble for maintenance funds, that lays bare a culture of apathy that can undermine a shared history as well as the multibillion-dollar tourism industry upon which much of Europe depends.

We are so used to our outstanding cultural heritage in Europe that we tend to forget that it needs constant care and attention, Tibor Navracsics, the European Unions top culture official, told The Associated Press.

Some say the wake-up call, not just for Europe but the whole world, rang in Paris.

Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovicis, head of the Europa Nostra heritage foundation, said it was as if Notre Dame decided to set itself on fire to ring the alarm bell. As if she wanted to sacrifice herself for the cause.

Devastating fires have robbed mankind of its knowledge, art and treasures since the famed library of Alexandria in northern Egypt burned down in ancient times. Prior to Notre Dame, the last global warning came when Brazils Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most important cultural institutions in South America, burned down in September.

Unfortunately, the fire in Notre Dame is just one of many examples, said Navracsics.

Experts look at the near-endless list of fires at historical sites in Europe and wonder why officials so often dont learn before its too late. Data on such fires is limited, because monuments are so varied. Some were accidents, others arson.

There are no exact statistics, said Didier Rykner of Frances La Tribune de lArt, but added that France sees several fires every year in historic buildings, which is already way too much.

A 2015 study by the German engineering giant Siemens showed that Scotland had about 10 damaging fires a year, while England lost at least a dozen listed buildings a year. Germany has seen 70 such buildings destroyed since 2000.

Every year, theres lightning or something else that destroys a tower or a roof, Juan Antonio Herráez, who is in charge of preventive conservation at Spains Cultural Heritage institute, told the AP.

In 1985, the tower of Luxembourgs main cathedral caught fire and burned down. In 2004, a fire in the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar, Germany, caused an estimated 80 million euros in damage. In Italy, the historic La Fenice opera house in Venice was destroyed by fire in 1996, and a year later, that happened at Turins Sindone Chapel of the Holy Shroud.

And all too often, fires happen during restoration work.

The Glasgow School of Arts Mackintosh Building was gutted by fire last year for the second time in four years as it neared the end of a multimillion-pound (dollar) restoration project.

In Spain, the Gran Teatre del Liceu — Barcelonas opera house — was destroyed almost entirely in 1994 by a fire caused by spark that fell on a curtain during routine repair work.

Experts say whats lacking is the constant attention and regular maintenance that could help avoid the need for major restoration work, but that costs money. The problem has been exacerbated by the austerity budgets many European nations adopted after the 2008 financial crisis and during Europes subsequent debt crisis.

After austerity cuts, Rykner said, you need some drastic restorations that either you dont do, or you do them badly or cheaply. And it can lead to fires.

Herráez wants officials to shift their focus to prevention instead of only reacting to building disasters.

Reparation or restoration should be seen as the failure in conservation, he said. We would be spending money in maintenance but we will be minimizing potential future damages.

Navracsics echoed that thought.

We should never forget that theres also a cost to non-action, a lack of maintenance or a lack of prevention, he said.

The problem is that prevention is practically invisible but grand restorations can be a boon for the politicians cutting the ribbons.

The fire at Notre Dame had barely been doused when two of Frances richest men, rival billionaires, stepped up with flashy, competing donations of hundreds of millions of euros to rebuild the Paris cathedral. Notre Dame donations now stand at over 1 billion euros (1.12 billion) — or about three years of Frances national restoration budget.

This massive outpouring of donations grates on those who have begged for years for a few thousand euros to restore a local but valuable monument.

You have seen that, now, the money is not the problem, said Quaedvlieg-Mihailovicis. There is a lesson. Could we not invest smaller amounts, and not just for the biggest and the most iconic monuments?

The EU itself has allotted 4.7 billion euros (5.28 billion) for restorations in the 2014-2020 financial budget on top of what individual nations do.

As state funding dries up, governments are increasingly looking for private donors to renovate major monuments. In Italy in recent years, Tods luxury shoes sponsored the Colosseum face-lift, while the Fendi fashion house helped the Trevi Fountain in Rome and Diesel backed improvements for the Rialto bridge in Venice.

We do need to invest more, but this is a shared responsibility for governments, businesses and citizens across Europe, said Navracsics.

Nations will reap the benefits of such spending for years to come. Tourism in Britain and France alone amounts to about 7 of their Gross Domestic Product, good for around 150 billion euros and 170 billion euros (around 170 billion and 190 billion) a year.

Some say world-renowned monuments like Notre Dame are the driving force behind such tourism and deserve more respect.

Cultural heritage is a gold mine. You cannot exploit it and then just leave the mine and go to another one. It is something you really have to cherish, said Quaedvlieg-Mihailovicis.

Aritz Parra in Madrid, Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless in London, Colleen Barry in Milan, Sylvie Corbet and Sam Petrequin in Paris all contributed

Read and watch all Associated Press coverage of the Notre Dame fire at

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